Considering who Newcastle could have faced, the level of difficulties the other British sides face in their next couple of rounds in Europe, and the fact our group winners Bordeaux have drawn Ukrainian opposition anyway and then have to get past Benfica potentially – this draw has been very favourable to us. Apart from the obvious huge travelling arrangements needed to go and watch from a fan’s point of view, from a purely footballing perspective, nobody associated with NUFC should be complaining.
However, speaking of travelling to go and see the match in the east of Ukraine potentially brings up a nasty subject in football. Racism. If you watched the BBC Panorama programme before Euro 2012 got under way, you will have seen one of their reporters travelled to Ukraine for one part of the programme to show a football match between two local rivals. What happened in this match was that a section of home fans were targeted, beating and kicked out of the stands by other home fans. For reasons of which that can only be explained because of the colour of their skin.
Newcastle fans will be travelling to this stadium on the 21st of February to watch their team hopefully go through to the next round of the Europa League. So what should they be expecting once they do so?
Racism towards our black players from the stands? Racism against themselves if they are anything other than white? Who knows. The threat of racism on both counts, or even violence, cannot be ignored as it is clear the country of Ukraine has a serious problem with it and that very football club, in that very stadium, cannot deny it doesn’t go on.
I am sure the subject will come up countless times from now until we play them at their stadium on 21st February. As for now, let’s just look at the draw from a purely footballing point of view and it isn’t that bad.
With the next round to be competed against either Anzhi or Hannover, I will take that over what our group winners Bordeaux’ next opponents will be, in the shape of either Benfica or Leverkusen.
The fans who could find themselves in Russia not long after coming back from a trip to Ukraine may not agree with me.
One thing is for sure, you will never see a mackem at Metalist.
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